New Delhi: Comeback man Akhil Kumar did not say it in so many words but suggested that he would not have behaved the way fellow boxer Sarita Devi did at the Incheon Asian Games medal ceremony.
Protesting against a controversial verdict, Sarita in an unprecedented move, had refused to wear the medal around her neck as she broke down on the podium during the ceremony for the 57-60 kg category.
She has now been handed a provisional suspension by world boxing body AIBA along with three coaches.
Akhil, who made a comeback to boxing after three years at the Incheon Asian Games, said that an athlete should not do anything to bring a bad name to the country.
"Take Sachin Tendulkar for example. He was given out so many times in bad decisions and he was sledged by opposition players so that he was distracted. But he played his game to the highest level of sporting spirit," he said at an event organised by Anglian Medal Hunt which felicitated Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medal winners under its sponsorship.
"Anybody who is representing India should think himself or herself as a role model for youngsters and future players. I know how much an athlete is pained at a wrong decision and the impact it may have on his or her career but ultimately you have to play within the rules and by upholding the sporting spirit," said Akhil who lost in the pre-quarterfinals in the lightweight category (60kg) in Incheon.
Some of the international and domestic boxers might have expressed opposition to switching to bouts without headgear in men's competition, but Akhil supported the move, saying that it has actually reduced risk of injury in the sport.
"Bouts without headgear has reduced chances of having cuts and concussion. It has been proved that with headgear your head becomes heavier and that increases the chance to have concussion when you are hit on face. Without headgear, chances of having concussion has reduced considerably," said Akhil who won a gold in 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
"Moreover, you can now use an ointment called Cavilon to reduce injury if you are hit on the face. You have to apply it twice -- at the time of weigh-in on the morning of bout and then half an hour before the actual bout. Then, chances of having a cut on the face will be reduced considerably,"
The 33-year-old Haryana boxer also said that he supports the new points system introduced by AIBA, which has been criticised by many including Indian coaches.
"Earlier, everything was about the punches that carried points. Now, it is about looking at the overall performance, technique, movement, approach and of course landing punches on your opponent. The new system is surely better.
"Now, you can come back after doing badly in a round. Earlier, if your are say five-six points down in first round, it is very difficult to come back. But now, you can do that."